COLUMBIA — Hy-Vee plans to begin construction on two new stores in properties it agreed to lease more than a year ago, a spokeswoman for the grocer said.
On Monday, Hy-Vee finalized plans to lease the former Wal-Mart store in the Rock Bridge Shopping Center at Nifong Boulevard and Providence Road and the former Megamart in the Broadway Marketplace on Conley Road, Hy-Vee spokeswoman Chris Friesleben said. The company had originally signed a lease in July 2007, Friesleben said. Both sites are owned by The Kroenke Group.
Renovation of the Rock Bridge location will begin as soon as possible with asbestos abatement; exterior construction is scheduled to begin in October, she said.
The Conley Road location will be in the former Megamart at 25 Conley Road, and construction is scheduled to begin in late spring 2009. Construction on each location generally takes about a year, but no completion date has been set, Friesleben said.
Each store will be 78,300 square feet. The Conley Road store will require the expansion of the former Megamart space into some of the smaller spaces in the shopping center, Friesleben said.
The locations fall within the Rock Bridge Center and Conley Road transportation development districts, respectively. Both districts charge a one-half-cent sales tax on businesses to pay for transportation projects. The sales taxes are not subject to voter approval.
Friesleben said transportation projects offered by the districts are beneficial to both stores, but they did not affect the company's original choice of the two locations.
"Infrastructure improvements are a good thing for access to businesses and a safe thing for customers," Friesleben said.
The company had already been looking for other locations to build a store "because our first location had been so successful," she said.
In addition to a pharmacy, the two locations will offer club rooms that could be rented out to civic organizations and individuals for events per the store manager's discretion, she said.
The former Wal-Mart space has been vacant since the store moved from Rock Bridge center to a new location in the Grindstone Plaza development on Grindstone Parkway. Before unanimously approving Grindstone Plaza in January 2006, members of the Columbia City Council had expressed concern that the Rock Bridge center would sit empty for an extended period of time.
Mayor Darwin Hindman said he is pleased that Hy-Vee will occupy the vacant space.
"It's good to get these buildings filled with commercial activity," Hindman said.
Hindman said he expects the Hy-Vee and the road improvements funded through the Rock Bridge Center Transportation Development District to increase the chance of filling the former Nowell's grocery store in the shopping center, which also has been vacant for years.
Jack Maher of Maly Commercial Realty said he couldn't comment on whether development was under way for the former Nowell's store.
Hy-Vee is headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, and operates more than 200 stores in seven states in the Midwest, including a store at 3100 W. Broadway in Columbia.